On 22 June 2021, the State Comptroller and Ombudsman, Mr. Matanyahu Englman, laid on the table of the Knesset (Israeli parliament) Annual Report 47 of the Ombudsman for the year 2020.
This year the presentation of the annual report was a particularly memorable occasion - for the first time in the history of the Office of the Ombudsman, a discussion on the report was held in the plenum of the Israeli parliament. The presentation of the report was also marked by a special online fellow event, hosted by the Office, for other ombudsman institutions in Israel and senior citizen organizations; the event was led by Dr. Esther Ben-Haim, Adv., Head of the Office of the Ombudsman.
Needless to say, the year 2020 was highly challenging due to the Covid-19 crisis, and the activity of the Office of the Ombudsman during the year reflects the difficulties encountered and the measures taken to cope with them. Furthermore, the data compiled on the complaints received in 2020 illustrate the impact of the pandemic on the economy at large.
This year, for the first time, the Office used the services of the Central Bureau of Statistics to receive an in depth analysis of the characteristics of complainants turning to the Office. This analysis enables the Office to locate communities that are unaware of the benefits to be gained from seeking the Ombudsman's assistance, and to improve the accessibility of its activities to all sectors of Israeli society. The data analysis is also important for the public bodies, since it acts as a "sensor" gauging for them the quality of the service that they provide.
In 2020, the Office received about 17,700 letters of complaint, as compared with some 14,200 letters of complaint in 2019, an increase of 24%; about 3,200 letters related to the coronavirus crisis. Due to the pandemic, there was a sharp 467% increase in the number of complaints relating to state benefits (particularly unemployment benefit).
About a fifth (19.3%) of the complaints concerned local government; 25.5% of these complaints dealt with public service.
The report highlights the use of innovative measures for handling complaints, especially during crises such as the Covid-19 pandemic. These measures include the use of video calls for receiving complaints, holding discussions with public bodies and conducting on-site visits; highly successful mediation procedures have also started to be held online.
In conjunction with the annual report, the Office of the Ombudsman published a special pamphlet that summarizes the extensive activity of the Office in 2020. For the English version of the pamphlet click here.
This year the Office is celebrating its 50th Anniversary. To mark this festive occasion, we invite the international ombudsman community to a special online conference on the theme - Advancing the Rights of the Elderly in an Age of Longevity, which will take place on 1 December 2021 (further details to follow).
We look forward to seeing you all there!
Source: The State Comptroller and Ombudsman of Israel